FRANKLYWNOW - Budget Keeps Wheeling on Even Keel

Budget Keeps Wheeling on Even Keel

Story By Linda Harris Wheeling's $23 million proposed budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year won't bring a host of new capital projects or employee pay raises. On the other hand, it won't require any tax increases, service cuts or personnel reductions. It also maintains the city's $1 million budget stabilization account, funds the city draws on when revenue collections are slow and replaces once they come in and the cash flow is restored. "There are no proposed fee increases or tax increases in the budget, nor do I anticipate council instituting any," City Manager Robert Herron said. The proposed $23.69 million budget has been presented to council, but Herron said changes still are possible. At a budget workshop, Herron said he outlined ways council might, if it chooses, boost revenue to allow for raises or capital projects. "What I did was outline what other cities across the state have done" to generate revenue, he said. Weirton, Huntington and Charleston, for instance, have instituted weekly user fees for all people employed within the respective cities. That money can be used to repair roads or other infrastructure projects. "The way I present the budget is I do budget discussion points," Herron said. "The No. 1 point is there is no tax or fee increase in our proposed budget, (but) it is tight. We won't have extra money to spend." That doesn't mean city residents won't see their tax dollars at work. Herron said funding for roughly $400,000 in 2004-05 paving projects was carried over into the new fiscal year because of flooding and other issues. The city also will be doing a $15 million upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant and several improvements to the collection system as well. "The proposed fiscal year 2005-06 Wheeling budget is balanced," he said. "Unfortunately, it is a tight budget which does not include a lot of capital projects or capital equipment expenditures, and it does not include employee pay raises at this time. But, on the other hand, there are no proposed tax or fee increases in the budget, either." The city employs 420 people.

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